Driven: Audi’s sensational S4 quattro sedan
IT’S a big problem for Audi as the S4 is exceptional, creating an enormous challenge for the engineers and designers currently working on the RS4, the performance flagship of the superb A4 range.
The S4 is a wonderful mix of power and luxury with understated looks ... a real sleeper.
It will reach 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and thunder on to 250km/h (electronically limited).
The last V8-powered RS4 did the same, yet cost another $50K more.
The German boffins will be aiming for a low 4 second time for the next RS4, in line with rivals at BMW (M3) and Mercedes-Benz (C63AMG).
The S4 comes with 19in alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, around-view camera, reversing camera, up-spec satellite-navigation, adaptive cruise control, auto parking, auto headlights and wipers, high beam assist, keyless entry and start, heated folding electric mirrors, LED headlights, dynamic scrolling rear indicators, electric heated sports front seats, leather and Alcantara trim, three-zone climate control and interior LED lighting.
A 10-speaker stereo is powered by Audi’s MMI rotary dial system and the same 8.3-inch screen as the rest of the A4 range, which also means you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as two USB ports in the centre console to go with the Bluetooth. There’s also a DAB+ digital radio.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is standard and has an additional S mode which switches the dial view for a big tacho and a huge digital speed readout.
The base model is about $ 108,250 but being an Audi it came with a stack of options, in- cluding an S Performance Pack ($4125) with better leather seats and red brake calipers and a quattros port differential ($2062), which added another $13,500 to top out at $130,709.28 on the road.
Some of the options, such as a $1727 sunroof, are not necessary
The S4 has four bottle holders, cupholders front and rear for a total of four and various slots and spots for phones and keys in the front while the rear is a little less accommodating of bits and pieces.
Audi says S4 owners prefer to fly under the radar so the car doesn’t look much different from an optioned up A4.
However, it is 23mm lower and the 19in alloys beef up the looks as well. It’s restrained, with just a few details, including a V6T badge on the front guards.
Inside is as roomy and comfortable as the standard car and looks just as good. It’s a fine interior, the best in its class.
The turbocharged V6 is new from the ground up with 260kW ( 15kW increase) and a nice round 500Nm (up 60Nm), the new engine is 14kg lighter than the supercharged unit it replaces and more efficient.
Power reaches the road via an Audi Sport tweaked quattro system which can send 85 per cent of power in either direction and is rear-biased with a standard 60/ 40 rear/ front torque split. The seemingly ubiquitous and always excellent eightspeed ZF transmission handles the job of getting the power from the engine to the road.
The sedan will rocket along with a delicious German growl and is great for overtaking.
It is terrific fun. Lag is almost indistinguishable as the turbo spools up and rockets you along.
With dynamic mode switched on, the car muscles up with firmer suspension and a slightly throatier exhaust.
It easily despatches roads such as the Rex Range between Mossman and Mt Molloy and was a lot of fun on the twisty bits of Springmount Rd behind Walkamin.
As well as the excellent quattro system the brakes are terrific. The ride is excellent in all modes.
The main bugbear is road noise from the low profile tyres. Audi says fuel use should be 7.7L/100km. My drive of 300kmplus returned 11.
The S4 sedan is superb, lighter, slightly faster and more technologically advanced than its predecessor and well worthy of the badge.
Audi has thrown a cat among the pigeons.